James Poniewozik

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For 560 reviews, this critic has graded:
  • 42% higher than the average critic
  • 5% same as the average critic
  • 53% lower than the average critic
On average, this critic grades 2 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)

James Poniewozik's Scores

Average review score: 65
Highest review score: 100 Game of Thrones: Season 4
Lowest review score: 0 Dads: Season 1
Score distribution:
  1. Negative: 56 out of 560
560 tv reviews
    • 64 Metascore
    • 80 James Poniewozik
    The show is filled with Lettermanesque non sequiturs and '70s pop-culture arcana... but it has heart too.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 75 James Poniewozik
    There are signs that the premise may not sustain for long (the title, after all, gives it only a week), but it still shows that a good pratfall is the universal language.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 75 James Poniewozik
    Like a successful patient, the show has learned and grown, becoming more reliably compelling.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 75 James Poniewozik
    It's a promising comedy about a shallow man trying to make his life right, one bad deed at a time.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 75 James Poniewozik
    The new episodes quickly jump back in, with higher stakes and sharper jokes, and creator Josh Schwartz hasn't let the strike stop him from developing Chuck's character.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 75 James Poniewozik
    Lie to Me's pilot is brisk anthropological fun.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 75 James Poniewozik
    Its stripped-from-the-tabloids approach is nothing new, but it's well done, and a little familiarity won't hurt the show's chances.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 75 James Poniewozik
    If The Good Wife can maintain the first episode's tone, it will keep an audience even after political sex scandals fade from the news.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 70 James Poniewozik
    While the first two episodes of Portlandia are hit-and-miss, its good-natured satire generally hits, as they say, pretty close to home.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 70 James Poniewozik
    Overall, the season stands up well next to any sitcom on the air now; a few episodes were meandering slogs, but a few others are among the funniest, best-executed sitcom episodes I’ve seen this season.
    • 52 Metascore
    • 70 James Poniewozik
    Deadpan and gorgeously shot, The Hills is an addictively watchable visit to the cool kids' table.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 70 James Poniewozik
    There’s definitely something Fallonized about the new Late Late Show, not necessarily in a bad way at all.... The device of bringing both Hanks and Mila Kunis on at once cocktail-party style is promising, but we’ll see if it works with a wider range of guests.... Other elements of the show are embryonic. Musician-comedian Reggie Watts was an inspired choice for bandleader, and let’s hope the show gives him an active role.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 70 James Poniewozik
    The Rosie Show is nothing revolutionary, but it does as much as reasonably can be expected of a talk show in its first week, and--thanks to the experience of its star--has the feeling of a show that's been on the air for months longer.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 70 James Poniewozik
    There’s a lot of thread here, and less time than usual to knit. In the first three hours anyway, there’s too much Empire, too little Boardwalk.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 70 James Poniewozik
    None of this is groundbreaking, and that’s Togetherness' biggest weakness.... But Togetherness improves as it goes, on its excellent performances, well-observed writing and--a strength of all HBO’s best shows--specificity, both of setting (quasi-suburban Eagle Rock) and of personality.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 70 James Poniewozik
    This loose, wry sitcom makes a crackling love connection.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 70 James Poniewozik
    UnREAL is melodramatic and moralizing. But it’s also, in its first three episodes, pretty good: dark, deft and empathetic.
    • 45 Metascore
    • 70 James Poniewozik
    Good-hearted, eccentric and wry, Ride goes nowhere fast, but it has a fine time getting there.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 70 James Poniewozik
    Judged on its own, Confirmation is solidly in the middle range of meat-and-potatoes HBO historical movies. There’s nothing wrong with it, nor will it do much to surprise you. It tells a sober, linear story and doesn’t develop its characters beyond headline-news figures.
    • 54 Metascore
    • 70 James Poniewozik
    It's highly entertaining.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 70 James Poniewozik
    The political story lines are weaker and a lot of the exposition is ham-handed. As racial tensions build in the town halfway through the season, the story becomes grand in scale but teeters with some of its provocative twists. Still, this is a drama with a broad curiosity, one that hears every character out but doesn’t confuse empathy with excuse-making.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 70 James Poniewozik
    The writing is uniformly strong and Byrne excellent not only at reading Paul's dialogue but conveying what he's withholding--his true feelings about his patients, his inner turmoil over his disintegrating home life. But the storylines vary wildly from riveting to tedious.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 70 James Poniewozik
    Black-ish‘s nuance is promising--it’s aware that there’s not just one way to be black--and the sheer level of execution suggests it has staying power.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 70 James Poniewozik
    Like the newest digital tablet, the latest Sesame Street isn’t an essential. But it’s nice, if your parents happen to have the money.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 70 James Poniewozik
    It's a big download of fever-dream melodrama, but strong casting goes a long way toward selling it.
    • 52 Metascore
    • 70 James Poniewozik
    Drive is an audacious, exhilarating enough concept, and its pace and writing snappy enough, to make you want to believe.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 70 James Poniewozik
    Noah read his material with good timing, shifting from sly to authoritative to snarky. What’s less clear yet is if he can be off-the-cuff funny.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 70 James Poniewozik
    It’s a potentially interesting way of dramatizing and heightening the state of small-town claustrophobia: what if this little place, which seemed like the whole world, suddenly essentially became the entire world?... That’s the biggest potential strength of Under the Dome. A weakness is that few of its characters are instantly memorable or distinctive; there’s a kind of generic, TV-commercial homogeneity to the Chester’s Mill we first see.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 70 James Poniewozik
    With the necessary caveat that it’s fruitless to “review” a late-night show after one night ... [the panel discussion] is the segment that will need the most work. ... Maybe the most important first impression from a talk show’s first night is simply point-of-view: does the show know what it is, and why it is? Here The Nightly Show really has something going for it.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 70 James Poniewozik
    The new season takes time to reset, and the movement in the early episodes is slow. The character dynamics are solid, though, and the ’80s details continue to be spot on.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 70 James Poniewozik
    The band has a refreshing scruffiness but except for Joe gets too little screen time to leaven the formula slickness.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 70 James Poniewozik
    While the pilot didn't blow me away, there's enough in its premise (the mob comes to Las Vegas in the early '60s), its casting (Michael Chiklis as a gangster and Dennis Quaid as his sheriff adversary) and its seeming ambition that make me more interested in it than in most new shows this fall.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 70 James Poniewozik
    There’s a fine line between celebrating the past and exhuming it. Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life stays, mostly, on the good side of that line.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 70 James Poniewozik
    The series needed a change-up and season 3 provides one, a bit; Frank is not fighting to get somewhere but to stay where he is, and his enemy is not so much a single Big Bad as it is the processes of government and diplomacy. When he’s off-balance, we are, and that makes the plot turns more interesting.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 70 James Poniewozik
    It takes characters normally written off or romanticized and treats them as full, flawed people. The cowboy term for that would be “respect,” and The Ranch both gives and earns it.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 70 James Poniewozik
    While it's haunting, cerebral and gorgeous, it's also a little cold, though the flashes of humor help. Like its actives, it's a marvelous piece of engineering. But I hope it develops a personality of its own.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 70 James Poniewozik
    In all, it's a polished pilot, but one that will have to ground its characters better to work as a series.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 70 James Poniewozik
    It's worth hopping on this poetic, profane story of frontier money lust before it rides into the sunset.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 70 James Poniewozik
    What the pilot does have is simple charm, and enough laughs to give me a gut feeling that this show can build on the setup of a brother-sister pair who, between the two of them, make approximately one functional adult.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 70 James Poniewozik
    Like its endearingly flawed protagonist, Ugly Betty is promising but not perfect.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 70 James Poniewozik
    For all its cheekiness and raunch, Skins has more sweetness than snarky teen soaps like Gossip Girl.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 70 James Poniewozik
    The show's conversational improv rhythms and realistic, documentary style make Sons and Daughters worth adopting.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 70 James Poniewozik
    While the busy first hour scarcely has time to set a premise and lay down a beat, it promises all the glitter and heightened emotion its genre mashup implies, if it can keep its pathos from sliding into parody.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 70 James Poniewozik
    What gives Revenge the potential to last as an ongoing series (after all, doesn't Emily have to run out of victims?) is the well-drawn characters and the sense that Emily does have a conscience beyond the desire for payback.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 70 James Poniewozik
    Maybe the most encouraging thing about this intriguing but imperfect Young Norman Bates Adventures show is that, in a time when dramas are determined to hook viewers with rapid-fire twists, it takes its time answering.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 70 James Poniewozik
    The college was saved and the show was saved, but that left each with a question: what now? The first two new episodes still seem to be figuring it out. Community still feels very much like the same show in tone, sense of humor and production quality.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 70 James Poniewozik
    I’m less sure what the season will do with the potentially volatile racial themes the premiere hints at. But AHS seasons have always thrived on the philosophy of risk and excess. So far, the first episode of Coven is a stylish introduction (complete with black hats).
    • 51 Metascore
    • 70 James Poniewozik
    The show, starring Six Feet Under’s Rachel Griffiths (as the camp manager going through a divorce from her husband/business partner), has sweetness and good-hearted humor.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 70 James Poniewozik
    Francis needs a stronger nemesis, if not for the sake of justice then for the sake of excitement. And House of Cards would be a greater show if it had characters who were people more than game pieces. Still, on its limited terms, it’s absorbing to watch as a story of, in Underwood’s preferred metaphor, the climb up Washington’s “food chain,” one with two kinds of creature: hogs at the trough, and hogs to the slaughter.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 70 James Poniewozik
    The series expands its scope intriguingly (Berlin becomes a significant setting), but it might benefit from setting an endpoint.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 70 James Poniewozik
    A sharp if uneven Whitmanian sampler.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 70 James Poniewozik
    Supergirl is an average action show thus far, but its star is engaging.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 70 James Poniewozik
    The Walking Dead is starting season 2 much more strongly than it ended season 1.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 70 James Poniewozik
    What Prison Break lacks in plausibility--basically, everything--it makes up for in plotting, pacing and panache.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 70 James Poniewozik
    At moments, it’s like [Season 3 of] Homeland blew up not just CIA headquarters but season 2 itself. That is, it’s a version of what it might have been like if--as was apparently the original plan--Brody’s explosive vest did go off in that government shelter at the end of season 1. And it works, mostly, at least for the two hours of the season’s beginning.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 70 James Poniewozik
    It may well not be your thing, but if it is, the first four episodes of The Strain have enough stylish gore, enough well-paced mystery and little enough self-seriousness to keep you watching, giggling, through your fingers.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 70 James Poniewozik
    It's not essential anymore, but it's still welcome.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 70 James Poniewozik
    The first episode is called “My Struggle,” which aptly describes the experience of sitting through it. It lumbers. It plods. The actors chew sawdusty mouthfuls of expository dialogue.... Thankfully, the second episode shakes the dourness and gives Mulder and Scully more room to breathe. But it’s the third--a comic palate-cleanser in the “monster of the week” vein--that finally recreates the show’s oddball delights.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 70 James Poniewozik
    Through the four episodes screened for critics, the season bursts with power and purpose but misses a spark of life. It plays like an earnestly acted position paper.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 70 James Poniewozik
    It’s often funny, but it’s not infallible. A lot of the first episode plays like a sketch-show bit that drags on too long, tees up giant stereotypes and goes for easy “Wouldn’t it be funny if Jesus did ____” gags.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 70 James Poniewozik
    Edelstein’s sympathetic performance grounds a show that often otherwise plays like young-adult fiction for actual adults. For every raw, bitter moment, there are many Hollywood caricatures and swank party scenes to make the cocktail go down easier.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 70 James Poniewozik
    After three episodes, I have to say it’s... pretty good.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 70 James Poniewozik
    The early episodes get better the deeper they delve into the murder mystery, despite false notes like members of a biker gang who look like extras from “Grease.” If the tone is not yet consistent, the aesthetic is, a strong sign that Riverdale knows what it wants to be. The terrific art direction warps the bubble-gum iconography into something haunting and lurid.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 70 James Poniewozik
    Has the same quick-cut look, crisp dialogue and bone-crunching game scenes [ast the movie].
    • 78 Metascore
    • 70 James Poniewozik
    I'm interested but not engrossed, though it offers the potential for a change-up in the Dexter storyline.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 70 James Poniewozik
    The show has become a little like legal 24 for me: lots of talent and strong performances, but it has increasingly seemed to strain to up its stakes in its one-case-a-season format.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 70 James Poniewozik
    It's an insightful, easy-to-like, low-stakes character dramedy about men coming to terms with their limits. A story for an era of lower expectations, Men of a Certain Age meets its own diminished ones, and surpasses them.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 70 James Poniewozik
    It is, by default, one of the better new shows on the big networks, and it does what it's trying to do very well. But what it's trying to do is very limited in its aims and upside.

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